Mark In Texas History: Ezekiel Airship precedes Wright Bros.’ attempt at flight
PITTSBURG, Texas (KLTV) - Before the Wright Brothers took to the air, a Baptist minister attempted to take to the air here in East Texas.
Burell Cannon was a Baptist minister and inventor. In 1902, Cannon led some investors in Pittsburg to create the Ezekiel Airship. It was modeled after a description in the Biblical book of Ezekiel.
The ship had large, fabric-covered wings and was powered by an engine that turned four sets of paddles.
A replica of the airship was put on permanent display at the Northeast Texas Rural Heritage Museum in Pittsburg in 2017.
Four people, sworn to secrecy, saw it fly.
After that, Cannon decided to take Ezekiel on the road for more investors. He was on the way to the World’s Fair in Saint Louis when Ezekiel met its demise.
“He got as far as Texarkana. He was on a side rail there, and there was a big wind that came through, blew it off and destroyed the airship.”
A second model crashed in 1913 and Cannon gave up the project.
A marker was erected at the site of that first takeoff in 1976 and is on Fulton Street at the intersection of South Market Street in Pittsburg.
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